Jane Austen

Deirdre Le Faye (ed.), Jane Austen's Letters (Fourth Edition)

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Editor’s Note74. To Cassandra Austen

  • Friday 31 May 1811
  • Chawton Friday May 31st.—

My dear Cassandra

I have a magnificent project.—The Cookes have put off their visit to us; they are not well enough to leave home at present, & we have no chance of seeing them till I do not know when—probably never, in this house. This circumstance has made me think the present time would be favourable for Miss Sharp's coming to us; it seems a more disengaged period with us, than we are likely to have later in the Summer; if Frank & Mary do come, it can hardly be before the middle of July, which will be allowing a reasonable length of visit for Miss Sharpe supposing she begins it when you return; & if You & Martha do not dislike the plan, & she can avail herself of it, the opportunity of her being conveyed hither will be excellent.—I shall write to Martha by this post, & if neither You nor she make any objection to my proposal, I shall make the invitation directly—& as there is no time to lose, you must write by return of post if you have any reason for not wishing it done.—It was her intention I beleive to go first to Mrs Lloyd1—but such a means of getting here may influence her otherwise.—We have had a Thunder storm again this morng. Your Letter came to comfort me for it.—I have taken your hint, slight as it was, & have [p. 2] written to Mrs Knight, & most sincerely do I hope it will not be in vain. I cannot endure the idea of her giving away her own wheel,2 & have told her no more than the truth, in saying that I could never use it with comfort;—I had a great mind to add that if she persisted in giving it, I would spin nothing with it but a Rope to hang myself—but I was afraid of making it appear a less serious matter of feeling than it really is. I am glad you are so well yourself, & wish everybody else were equally so.—I will not say that pg 199your Mulberry trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive. We shall have pease soon—I mean to have them with a couple of Ducks from Wood Barn & Maria Middleton towards the end of next week.— From Monday to Wednesday Anna is to be engaged at Farringdon, in order that she may come in for the Gaieties of Tuesday3 (ye 4th), on Selbourne Common, where there are to be Volunteers & Felicities of all kinds. Harriot B.4 is invited to spend the day with the John Whites, & her Father & Mother have very kindly undertaken to get Anna invited also.—Harriot & Eliz. dined here yesterday, & we walked back with them to Tea;—not my Mother—she has a cold which affects her in the usual way, & was not equal to the walk.—She is better this morng & I hope will soon physick away the worst part of it.—It has not confined her; she has got out every day that the weather has allowed her.—Poor Anna is also suffering from her cold which is worse today, but as she has no sore throat I hope it may spend itself by Tuesday She had a delightful Eveng with the Miss Middletons—Syllabub, Tea, Coffee, Singing, Dancing, a Hot Supper, eleven o'clock, everything that can be imagined agreable.—She desires her best Love to Fanny, & will answer her letter before she leaves Chawton, & engages to send her a [p. 3] particular account of the Selbourn day We cannot agree as to which is the eldest of the two Miss Plumbtrees;—send us word.—Have you remembered to collect peices for the Patchwork?—We are now at a stand still. I got up here to look for the old Map, & can now tell you that it shall be sent tomorrow;—it was among the great parcel in the Dining room.—As to my debt of 3s.6 to Edward, I must trouble you to pay it, when you settle with him for your Boots.—

We began our China Tea three days ago, & I find it very good—my companions know nothing of the matter.—As to Fanny, & her 12 lb. in a twelvemonth, she may talk till she is as black in the face as her own Tea, but I cannot beleive her;—more likely 12 lb. to a quarter.—I have a message to you from Mrs Cooke;—the substance of it is that she hopes you will take Bookham in your way home, & stay there as long as you can, & that when you must leave them, they will convey you to Guildford.—You may be sure that it is very kindly worded—& that there is no want of attendant Compts to my Brother & his family.—I am very sorry for Mary;5—but I have some comfort in there being two Curates6 now lodging in Bookham, besides their own Mr Warneford from Dorking, so that I think she must fall in love with one or the other.—

pg 200How horrible it is to have so many people killed!7—And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!—I return to my Letter writing from calling on Miss Harriot Webb, who is short & not quite straight, & cannot pronounce an R any better than her Sisters—but she has dark hair, a complexion to suit, & I think has the pleasantest countenance & manner of the three—the most natural.—She appears very well pleased with her new Home—& they are all reading with delight Mrs H. More's recent publication8

[p. 4] You cannot imagine—it is not in Human Nature to imagine what a nice walk we have round the Orchard.—The row of Beech look very well indeed, & so does the young Quickset hedge9 in the Garden.— I hear today that an Apricot has been detected on one of the Trees.—

My Mother is perfectly convinced now that she shall not be overpower'd by her Cleft Wood—& I beleive would rather have more than less.

Strange to tell, Mr Prowting was not at Miss Lee's wedding—but his Daughters had some cake, & Anna had her share of it.—I continue to like our old Cook quite as well as ever—& but that I am afraid to write in her praise, I could say that she seems just the Servant for us.—Her Cookery is at least tolerable;—her pastry is the only deficiency.—God bless you.—& I hope June will find you well & bring us together.—Yrs Ever

Jane.

[Postscript below address panel] I hope you understand that I do not expect you to write on Sunday, if you like my plan.—I shall consider Silence as Consent.

  • Miss Austen
  • Edwd Austen's Esqre
  • Godmersham Park
  • Faversham

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Notes

Editor’s Note
Description. Two leaves quarto, laid; watermark ruses turners 1807; mark of wafer.
Postmarks. d 1 ju 1 1811 alton 50
Provenance. Bequeathed by CEA to Fanny, Lady Knatchbull, in 1845; inherited by Lord Brabourne, 1882; probably in the Puttick & Simpson sale of 26–8 June 1893; Alfred Morrison; Sotheby's, 10 Dec. 1918; J. P. Morgan, 1920; Morgan Lib&Mus, New York (MA 977-29).
Publication. Brabourne ii. 105; Life 252 (extracts); Chapman (1st & 2nd); Modert F-220 to F-223.
Editor’s Note
1. to Mrs Lloyd. 'to' inserted superscript.
Editor’s Note
2. her own wheel. See Letter 2, note 4.
Editor’s Note
3. Gaieties of Tuesday. Celebrations of George III's birthday (1738) on 4 June.
Editor’s Note
4. Harriot B. Benn.
Editor’s Note
5. Mary. Cooke.
Editor’s Note
6. two Curates. Revd George Hanway Standert, curate of Great Bookham 1808 and of Little Bookham 1809; Revd John Collinson Bissett, curate of Great Bookham 1809.
Editor’s Note
7. so many people killed!. The Hampshire Telegraph of Monday 27 May reported a battle at Almeida a few days previously, with some casualties given; then on Monday 3 June carried a special supplement 'London Gazette Extraordinary' with a full account of the battle, named 'Albuera' by the Duke of Wellington.
Editor’s Note
8. recent publication. Practical Piety (1811).
Editor’s Note
9. Quickset hedge. Made on 28 January 1811, according to EAK's Chawton Estate Account Book: Hampshire County Record Office, 79M78MB211.
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